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Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I've been going to the school quite regularly to check in on the kids and to make sure their computers are working ok. I have successfully been able to reflash the computers, thanks to a USB drive that Elves has been hiding from me, which has the reflashing program on it. You should have seen the looks on these kids' faces when I told them their Internet works again. “It WORKS???”


“You mean, the network works???”

“Yes, the network works.”

“So I can USE IT???”

Absolute shock, really. I've also been talking to the teachers to see if they're interested in doing this summer program without me. On top of that, we're planning a trip to the beach on Saturday after class! Each student is required to contribute about 20,000 Dobras to come (the equivalent of about $1.40).

Yesterday, Kadma told me that her mother won't let her come with us on the field trip because she can't pay. I asked the teachers if it would be all right for me to pay for her. Today I am going to go to the school and let her know that I will pay for her. I really want her to be able to experience the fun parts, since her computer broke and she's been sharing with other students.

There is another girl who always finds me when I come to visit. I don't know her name. She has a thin face, long, thin eyes. Really beautiful braids that cover her head. She often sits with me for a while and puts her arm around me. Today she asks me where her computer is. She says that we have it and haven't given it to her yet. There was a time when I had asked to take home a few computers, and I left them with the teachers the next morning. I wonder if she hasn't picked hers up yet. I ask her which computer is hers, and she says computer #100. But that's not right. I know the girl who owns computer 100 and it isn't this girl. I ask Miguel to find the list of names so that we can get everything sorted out.

He takes one look at the girl. “No,” he says to her. “Sweetie, you don't have a computer yet.” Another student who has been trying so hard to get her hands on her own computer, that she has been flat out lying about owning one. The teachers want to get computers into the hands of ALL students. There are about 612 students in the 6th grade. It's a wide goal...but it's amazing that these kids are very aware of how valuable these computers are (if not just plain cool).

I was walking down the street yesterday in the city. It was about 5:30pm, dusk. I hear behind me, “Professora! Professora!!!” And when I look over, I see one of my students pass by with his mother. His face is glowing, and it's not by the light of his computer, which is in his hands, open and in active use. The boy is actually walking through the city while simultaneously using his laptop. The smile on his mother's face is magic. He can't even let go of this computer for ten minutes to make the trip home.

This is what learning is about!!!!!!

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Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007